Uni rankings wane as value of student peers grows

Teaching quality and testimonials from peers are top of mind for prospective international students, while rankings seem to be losing importance in their decision making, an industry report carried out by website educations.com shows.

Compared with current students, prospective student respondents were more likely to cite student reviews as a motivating factor in choosing a university.

Application decisions made on the basis of videos or virtual open days were also found to be “skyrocketing,” the report stated, while study abroad fairs were losing ground.

There have in fact been a few new companies in the last couple of years, such as Unibuddy and The Access Platform, offering peer referral services, and claiming that millennials can be targeted via their own peer group on social media.

This survey by comparison site Educations.com was conducted on over 32,000 students – including both students who had found their course through educations.com and prospective students engaging with the website to find their future studies.

While undergraduates and postgraduates had roughly the same dream destinations– the top five, US, UK, Canada, Australia and Germany were the same for both demographics – slight differences emerged when zooming into a region.

France was the dream destination for North American respondents, while Northern and Western Europeans said they wished to study in the US, and students from Southeast Asia named the UK as their number one choice.

Tuition fees and cost was increasingly reported as an important factor by respondents from North and South America.

Prospective student respondents from the Middle East indicated that work placement opportunities and flexible study modes are increasingly important features they are looking for.

Cost of living, teaching quality and safety were increasing in importance across the board, and so were career opportunities. This last factor was particularly important for prospective students from South Asia and Latin America.

Another general trend was a decreasing focus on the language spoken in the destination country.

Prospective students from most regions also reported prioritising program over country, following a decision flow from program, to country, to university – apart from Northern Europeans, who cited a “gut feeling about the country” as one of their priorities.